By Naomi Jones
If you’ve got your gardening cap on but the weather conditions are holding you back, then the best thing to do is take the opportunity to stay indoors and plan your planting schemes! Order plants and summer bulbs now and you can look forward to their arrival when the weather warms up a bit. Fragrant begonias are definitely one for the shopping list. If you fancy showing off big, impressive hanging baskets this summer, look no further.
These unique varieties have wonderfully scented flowers, which isn’t usually associated with begonias. Each plant produces masses of large, double blooms continuously throughout summer, with long stems that tumble elegantly out of pots, baskets or window boxes.
Fragrant (or odorata) begonias easy to grow and reliably put on a good show. They can even tolerate a bit of shade which makes them a great choice for brightening up a north-facing patio, an enclosed courtyard garden or for hanging either side of the front door.
Begonias are frost tender, but one of the great benefits of using them for summer bedding is that you can remove them from their containers, store them for winter and use them again the following year.
Fragrant Begonias in brief:
Grown from tubers, plant in spring
Flowers during summer and autumn
Height 40cm Spread 40cm
Grows in any free-draining soil
Suitable for containers
Thrives in full sun or partial shade
Frost tender, store indoors for winter
- Attracts bees and butterflies
Three of the best fragrant begonias
Stop and smell the begonias. Beautiful flowers with a delightful fragrance, odorata begonia meets the bill in providing this delicious combo. The various plants in the fragrant begonia family will give you a lovely show in containers on your shaded patio or covered porch. Here are three of our favourite scented begonia varieties:
Begonia odorata 'Angelique'
This stunning variety has large pink-blushed double blooms opening from dark pink buds which gives a gorgeous two-tone effect.
Begonia odorata 'Pink Delight'
A fantastic shade of pink for any garden. The intricate double blooms are a marvel close up and the sheer quantity of them means they provide high-impact colour from a distance too!
Begonia odorata 'Red Glory'
Vivid red blooms will light up any dull space, or equally well provide a truly eye-catching pop of colour on a sunny patio or hanging basket.
How to grow Fragrant Begonias
Begonias are grown from tubers. They’re very easy to grow, and the best time to start them off is in the spring. You can often find ready-grown begonias at garden centres in the summer, but they tend to be more expensive when bought this way and also not as healthy. Fragrant begonias are available to order online throughout early spring and will be sent out to you when the weather conditions are right, and just at the right time to pot them up.
Being frost tender, begonias require protected growing conditions to start with. If you have a greenhouse, conservatory or a spare windowsill, that’ll be perfect. You’ll need to grow them on indoors until the risk of frost has passed, which is normally around mid to late May.
How to plant fragrant begonias:
- Prepare your patio containers or hanging baskets by filling them with multi-purpose compost. It’s a good idea to mix in some slow-release fertiliser granules at this stage, which will feed the plants gradually throughout the season.
- Make shallow indents in the compost (approx. 3cm deep) and position your tubers in the indents, concave side up. Allow a 20cm spacing between the tubers.
- Cover them over with a dusting of compost and give them a thorough but gentle watering.
- Leave them in a bright, frost-free place to grow, watering whenever the soil looks dry.
- Once risk of frost has passed, move your containers to their outdoor positions. You can display them outside earlier in the spring, but only during the day on mild days – this hardens them off gradually so they don’t get a shock when they are put outside.
Fragrant begonias are easy to look after. The main thing to keep on top of is watering, especially when you’re planting in containers which can dry out quickly. You can help to keep your plants healthy and encourage them to produce the maximum amount of flowers by feeding them once a fortnight with a liquid feed – a tomato fertiliser is ideal. Regular deadheading is also a good idea to keep your displays looking fresh and neat.
If you’re hoping to save your scented begonias to use again the following year, it’s important to store them before the first frosts. To do this, simply remove all the foliage, tip them out of the containers and shake off any compost. Store the tubers in a dry, frost-free place throughout winter, before potting up again the following spring.